Bingo is a fun and exciting game played by adults of all ages online, in purpose-built venues and at charitable and sociable events. While the game is most often associated with Britain, bingo is actually popular all around the world, particularly in the United States.
Traditionally the game is played in-person, however there are now a huge range of bingo websites on the internet for fans of the game to enjoy. Each site has its often-fun themes, special offers and promotions for players.
The rules of the game are similar wherever you play. In fact, it is the simplicity of the game that has helped it to thrive all of these years and become so universal. Nevertheless, there are some key differences in the history of the game in the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the variants of the game most often played and the location and context in which it is enjoyed.
The history of bingo in the UK
The game is said to have come from medieval Italy and made its way over to England and other parts of Europe sometime in the 18th century. Skipping forward to the 1900’s, in the 1960s new regulations in the UK made playing bingo legally possible and purpose-built bingo halls began to pop up around the country.
By the middle of that decade, around 150,000 British people visited a bingo hall per day. However, as time went on and more entertainment options opened up for adults the number of players slowly diminished.
In recent years, more people have begun to enjoy playing the game online as the range of games has improved and access to smartphones increase. Last year, bingo generated around £910 million pounds in the UK.
Bingo’s history in the US
After originating in Europe, Bingo made its way over to America sometime in the 1920s. The game became popular in homes and venues across the US largely due to the work of a toy salesman who hired a mathematician to help him to come up with as many variations of winning rows on cards as possible.
The uptake of online bingo has not been quite as fast paced in the United States as it has in the UK, which is in part due to the differing rules and regulations around online gambling in the two countries.
Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences in the game in these two countries:
The legality of the game
In the UK, bingo can take place in licenced and registered premises, such as bingo halls and casinos. As a form of gambling, it is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission.
There are certain incidences where the game can be played without a licence. One example of this is private gaming, which may include residential care homes, hall of residences or hostels, as long as the organizer does not profit from the game.
The laws around bingo and gambling in general are more complex in the United States as individual states enforce their own laws and regulations. Many states allow the game to be played, while others such as Utah and Hawaii take a hard stance on all forms of gambling games.
There are a number of different variants of the game
The UK and US prefer different types of bingo
In the United Kingdom, the most popular type of bingo is 90 ball bingo. This game has three rows and nine columns, with each ticket featuring 15 numbers.
The winning options in the game are one line, two lines or a ‘full house’, which means that all numbers on the three lines have been called. In Britain there are slang terms for a variety of numbers, for example ‘2’ is ‘one little duck’, ‘11’ is ‘legs eleven’ and ‘66’ is ‘clickety click’.
Across the pond in the United States, the 75-ball variant of the game enjoys more popularity. In this version, winning options can be diagonal, vertical, or horizontal lines, as well as different shapes or the four corners of the ticket.
This ticket is the same size but only has the numbers 1 to 75 marked on it. The word ‘BINGO’ may be written on the top of the card and the numbers correspond with certain grid references, such as ‘B1’.
Although each country has its preferred game, bingo players can enjoy all the different variants, especially if playing online. As the popularity of the game has grown, more bingo sites have popped up and in order to remain competitive, game operators have increased their range of games on offer.
Attitudes towards the game also vary a little between countries…
In the US, the game is sometimes a bit more competitive than it is in the UK and players may play more cards simultaneously. Nevada is the centre of the commercial bingo industry there, with most activity being in Las Vegas, whereas in the UK privately owned venues are spread across the country.
While the game may differ a little in each country. Players in both the UK and the US find bingo a thoroughly enjoyable source of entertainment.